• REUTERS

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Manchester United closed in on the Premier League’s pole position after a 2-1 home win over Aston Villa on Friday pulled the club into a tie at the top with reigning champion Liverpool.

United trails on goal difference with both teams with 33 points after 16 matches ahead of their clash at Anfield on Jan. 17. Liverpool travels to Southampton on Monday while United visit Burnley on Jan. 12.

United extended their unbeaten run in the league to 10 games as Bruno Fernandes capped another fine individual performance with a penalty after Bertrand Traore canceled out Anthony Martial’s opener for the home side.

With striker Edinson Cavani serving a three-match ban for a social-media related offense, Paul Pogba got a start and put in a solid performance in the midfield as United ground out yet another tough win.

United right back Aaron Wan-Bissaka, who set up the home side’s opening goal for Anthony Martial, was upbeat with the winners of a record 20 league titles looking to mount a credible challenge this season.

“The win means a lot, it shows where we’ve come from, from the start of the season,” the 23-year old told the BBC.

“We’re just taking it game by game. It was a late start for us, we were in catch-up mode, but we’re here now. No excuses.”

The hosts had the upper hand in the first half and Martial forced an acrobatic save from Emiliano Martinez before he sent a superb diving header past the Villa goalkeeper after Wan Bissaka’s fine cross in the 40th minute.

The visitors came close through Ollie Watkins before Traore got on the end of a sharp Jack Grealish pass at the far post and beat United ‘keeper David De Gea with a slick shot from close range in the 58th.

Villa’s joy was short-lived as Fernandes drilled his penalty into the bottom right corner three minutes later, after Paul Pogba went down after a challenge from Douglas Luiz, with the penalty given after checking with VAR.

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